Health Benefits of Oolong Tea

There is a record of tea being used as a beverage in China since 2,000 B.C.E. Besides water, it is consumed more than any other drink around the world. The four main types of tea are black, green, white, and oolong.

All four varieties come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas are not considered true tea because they do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant.

Oolong tea accounts for only 2 percent of tea consumption around the world. Although less popular, oolong tea still has a variety of benefits. Read on to find out more information about oolong tea and its associated health benefits.

What is oolong tea?

Oolong tea is commonly consumed in China and Taiwan. In Asian countries, drinking tea is a large part of the culture and social gatherings. Friends and business associates often meet over tea.

Oolong
Oolong tea has a range of health benefits.

Although all true tea comes from the same plant, the differences occur in the harvesting and processing. Oolong tea is partially fermented, while black tea is fully fermented.

Tea can also differ in amounts and types of antioxidants. Green tea is high in a class of antioxidants known as catechins. Antioxidants in black tea are theaflavins and thearubigins. Oolong tea falls in the middle, regarding the antioxidant amounts.

Oolong tea and green tea contain similar amounts of caffeine, approximately 10 to 60 milligrams (mg) per 8-ounce cup. For comparison, coffee contains approximately 70 to 130 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup.

Unsweetened brewed tea is considered a zero-calorie beverage. It contains no fat, carbohydrates, or protein.

Potential health benefits of oolong tea

There are a number of health benefits that are thought to derive from drinking oolong tea, as with other types of tea.

Heart disease

Researchers in China studied the relationship between drinking oolong tea and cholesterol levels, as high cholesterol levels can be associated with an increased risk for heart disease.

They found that people who drank at least 10 ounces of oolong tea per week had lower risks of having high total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. The same was also true of people who drank similar amounts of green and black teas.

People who had been consuming oolong tea for the longest time had lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels.

In another study, Japanese men and women were studied for the impact of consuming coffee, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea on their risk of heart disease. Researchers found that men who drank 1 or more cups of oolong tea per day had a lower risk of heart disease.

Weight loss

study in mice showed that the animals receiving oolong tea extract while being fed a high fat, high sugar diet, gained less abdominal fat than mice on the same diet that did not receive the tea extract.

Green tea and black tea extracts also resulted in the less abdominal fat gain. The mice that received the green tea extract also consumed fewer calories.

study in overweight and obese Chinese adults looked at the effect of oolong tea consumption on body weight. Study participants drank 300 milliliters (mL) of oolong tea four times per day. After 6 weeks, more than half of the participants had lost more than 1 kilogram.

Cancer

Researchers in Taiwan examined the association between drinking tea and the risk of head and neck or throat cancer.

Each cup of oolong tea consumed per day equated to a 4 percent lower risk, but the result was not significant. Each cup of green tea consumed per day equated to a 6 percent lower risk for head and neck cancer, which was more significant.

Another study in Chinese women found that drinking green, black, or oolong tea was linked to a decreased risk of ovarian cancer.

However, according to the National Cancer Institute, there is not currently enough research to say for certain that drinking tea decreases cancer risk.

Diabetes

Some studies have shown that drinking 3 or more cups of tea per day is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

However, studies specifically looking at oolong tea have had varied results.

In one study, healthy men drank almost 6 cups per day of oolong tea. At different times, they drank oolong tea that contained supplemental antioxidants, which were in the form of catechins or polyphenols. Each of the teas was consumed for 5 days. Researchers found that drinking oolong tea did not improve blood sugar or insulin levels.

Interestingly, one study found that working men who drank 2 or more cups of oolong tea per day had a higher risk of developing diabetes than men who consumed 1 cup of oolong tea per day or no oolong tea.

Dental health

Fluoride is an element that is often added to drinking water, toothpaste, and mouthwash to help prevent dental cavities.

Tea leaves naturally contain fluoride, so drinking oolong tea could help prevent cavities. Excess fluoride can be harmful, but drinking less than 1 liter of oolong tea per day is safe for most adults.

Other possible benefits:

While there is not enough current research to support the following benefits, drinking tea has also been associated with:

  • healthier gut bacteria
  • lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • lower risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • natural defense from the sun’s ultraviolet rays
  • stronger bones

Studies that examined long-term consumption of oolong tea showed the greatest results. Although it is not a cure for any condition, drinking tea regularly appears to have numerous health benefits.

Risks and Considerations

Oolong Too much
Too much oolong can affect the absorption of iron into the blood.

Although oolong tea contains less caffeine than coffee, people who are sensitive to caffeine should still limit their intake.

Tea can decrease the amount of iron absorbed from plant foods. Also, some researchers found that young children who drank tea were more likely to have lower iron levels.

It may, therefore, be better to drink tea outside of meals to limit its impact on iron absorption. When consumed together at meals, eating foods rich in vitamin C can increase the amount of iron absorbed from plant foods.

Tea is a healthy beverage that has been consumed by people around the world for centuries. Oolong tea is a lesser known variety that may also provide health benefits. However, from some of the research reviewed above, drinking green tea may offer the most health advantages.

Bottled tea contains smaller amounts of beneficial polyphenols and may have excessive amounts of added sugar. If buying bottled teas, it may be better to look for ones that are unsweetened or to brew tea at home and sweeten it with a small amount of honey.

Oolong tea should be steeped for as long as possible to increase flavonoids, and people can consume 2-3 cups per day.

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Edamame: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

Edamame is the perfect little pick-me-up snack. You may have had it as an appetizer at a Japanese restaurant, tucked away in their fuzzy little pods and sprinkled with salt. But what exactly are those little green bean-looking things?

Edamame is a young soybean that has been harvested before the beans have had a chance to harden. You can buy them shelled or in the pod, fresh or frozen.

Edamame is naturally gluten-free and low calorie contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of protein, iron, and calcium. It is an especially important source of protein for those who follow a plant-based diet.

Possible health benefits of consuming edamame

Edamame
Edamame is a young soybean that has been harvested before the beans have had a chance to harden.

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like edamame decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.

The isoflavones (a type of compound called phytoestrogens) in soy foods have been linked to a decreased risk for osteoporosis, while the calcium and magnesium in soy may help to lessen PMS symptoms, regulate blood sugar and prevent migraine headaches. Soyfood consumption has been associated with a lower risk of several specific age and lifestyle-related conditions and improving overall general health.

1) Age-related brain diseases

Based on geographic epidemiological findings, it has been observed that populations that consume greater amounts of soy have, in general, less incidence of age-related mental disorders.

2) Cardiovascular disease

Consuming soy protein as an alternative to animal protein lowers levels of LDL cholesterol, which in turn decreases the risk of atherosclerosis and high-blood pressure.3

3) Breast and prostate cancer

Genistein, the predominant isoflavone in soy, contains antioxidant properties that inhibit the growth of cancer cells.4 Moderate amounts of soy foods do not affect tumor growth or a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, at least 10mg of soy per day can decrease breast cancer recurrence by 25%.

4) Depression

The folate in edamame may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood but sleep and appetite as well.

5) Diabetes

People who suffer from type 2 diabetes often experience kidney disease, causing the body to excrete an excessive amount of protein in the urine. Evidence from a recent study has indicated that those who consumed only soy protein in their diet excreted less protein than those that consumed only animal protein.

6) Fertility

For women of child-bearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources such as edamame, spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets appear to promote fertility, according to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications. Also of note, adequate folic acid intake is essential for pregnant women to protect against neural tube defects in infants. One cup of edamame per day provides 121% of daily folate needs.

7) Energy levels

Not getting enough iron in your diet can also affect how efficiently your body uses energy. Edamame is a great non-heme source of iron, along with lentils, spinach, and eggs.

8) Inflammation

Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in edamame that aids our bodies in sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.

9) Osteoporosis

Soy isoflavones are known to decrease bone loss and increase bone mineral density during menopause and have also been reported to reduce other menopausal symptoms.

Nutritional breakdown of edamame

Edamame is a complete source of dietary protein; meaning that like meat and dairy, it provides all of the essential amino acids needed in the diet that humans cannot make themselves.

The little beans are also high in healthy polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup (155 grams) of frozen, prepared edamame contains 189 calories, 8 grams of fat (1 gram saturated, 16 grams of total carbohydrate (8 grams of fiber and 3 grams of sugar) and a whopping 17 grams of protein.

A one-cup serving of edamame provides 10% of calcium needs, 16% of vitamin C, 20% of iron, 52% of vitamin K and 121% of your daily needs for folate.

Edamame also contains vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6, pantothenic acid, choline, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

How to incorporate more edamame into your diet

You can find fresh edamame in the produce section, often still in the pod, but you can also find it already shelled. You can also buy shelled or in-pod frozen edamame as well. If buying frozen, make sure there are no additives in the ingredients, only edamame.

Edamame with salt
The most common way to enjoy edamame is straight from the pod, sprinkle (while still in the pod) with sea salt.

Edamame has a mild, buttery flavor that pairs well with many dishes. You can add it to soups, stews, salads, rice dishes or casseroles in place of or in combination with other beans.

The most common way to enjoy edamame is straight from the pod, after boiling for 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle (while still in the pod) with sea salt, then pop and snack away. You can also substitute edamame when a recipe calls, for peas.

Try some of these delicious and healthy recipes with edamame:

Potential health risks of consuming edamame

Possible risks in consuming soy foods have been heavily debated recently, especially those pertaining to the topic of breast cancer. There is not enough evidence from human clinical trials to substantiate the claim that the isoflavones in soy contribute to breast cancer risk.

The soy and cancer study that started the controversy concerned only those with a specific type breast cancer (estrogen receptor positive). Some early studies suggested possible increased tumor growth in rats with a high intake of soy. As more advanced research was done, scientists found that rats metabolize soy completely different from humans, making the earlier studies invalid.

Now we know that moderate amounts of soy foods do not affect tumor growth or a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, at least 10mg of soy per day can decrease breast cancer recurrence by 25%.

Findings from animal models have also suggested there is a positive correlation between tumor growth and the degree to which an isoflavone-containing product has been processed. Therefore, it is better to consume tofu and other soy foods that have undergone minimal amounts of processing.3

According to the National Soybean Research Laboratory, unlike the popular genetically engineered soybean, all edamame is non-GMO.

If you have a concern regarding consuming other genetically modified soy foods, go organic. The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs. You can also look for products with the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. Some brands with this seal include Silk, Amy’s, Back to Nature and WestSoy. For a complete list of products with the verified seal, visit nongmoproject.org.

Keep in mind that it is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important for disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to aim to eat a diet with a variety than to rely on individual foods as the key to good health.

Medical Experts: The Cardiometabolic Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based eating patterns continue to soar in popularity and a group of nutrition researchers outlines the science behind this sustainable trend in a review paper, entitled “Cardiometabolic benefits of plant-based diets,” which appears as an online advance in Nutrients. The review will publish in a future special edition, entitled “The Science of Vegetarian Nutrition and Health.”

The review outlines how a plant-based diet, which is naturally low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients, like fiber and antioxidants, could be one tool, in addition to adopting a healthful lifestyle, used to improve nutrition intake and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

The authors, Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., analyzed clinical research studies and reviews published until May 2017. Their research finds a plant-based diet, built around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, can improve nutrient intake and help manage body weight and glycemic control, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reverse atherosclerosis or the narrowing of the arteries caused by the accumulation of arterial plaque.

“The future of health care starts on our plates,” says Dr. Kahleova, the lead study author and the director of clinical research at the nonprofit Physicians Committee. “The science clearly shows food is medicine, which is a powerful message for physicians to pass on to their patients and for policymakers to consider as they propose modifications for health care reform and discuss the potential amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill.”

To understand the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the researchers analyze its structure:

Fiber

Fiber contributes to bulk in the diet without adding digestible calories, thus leading to satiety and weight loss. Additionally, soluble fiber binds with bile acids in the small intestines, which helps reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.

Plant-Based Rx: Aim to eat at least 35 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American consumes 16 grams of dietary fiber each day.

Fats

Plant-based diets are lower in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can decrease insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Swap meat and dairy products, oils, and high-fat processed foods for smaller portions of plant staples, like a few avocado slices or a small handful of nuts and seeds, which are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Plant Protein

Vegetable proteins reduce the concentrations of blood lipids, reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Plant-Based Rx: Legumes, or lentils, beans, and peas are naturally rich in protein and fiber. Try topping leafy green salads with lentils, black beans, edamame, or chickpeas.

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols that have a structure similar to that of cholesterol reduce cardiovascular disease risk and mortality, have anti-inflammatory effects, and positively affect coagulation, platelet function and endothelial function, which helps reduce blood clots, increases blood flow, and stabilizes glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Consume a high intake of antioxidants and micronutrients, including plant sterols, from whole plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. A plant-based diet supports cardio-metabolic benefits through several independent mechanisms. The synergistic effect of whole plant foods may be greater than a mere additional effect of eating isolated nutrients.

“To make significant health changes, we have to make significant diet changes,” concludes Dr. Kahleova. “A colorful plant-based diet works well for anyone, whether you’re an athlete looking to boost energy, performance, and recovery by enabling a higher efficiency of blood flow, which equates to oxygen conversion, or if you’re a physician who wants to help patients lose extra weight, lower blood pressure, and improve their cholesterol.”

Dr. Kahleova and the study authors recommend using a plant-based diet as an effective tool to treat and prevent cardiometabolic disease, which they would like to see promoted through future dietary guidelines and nutrition policy recommendations.

Article: Cardio-Metabolic Benefits of Plant-Based Diets, Hana Kahleova, Susan Levin and Neal Barnard, Nutrients, doi: 10.3390/nu9080848, published 9 August 2017.

Benefits of Kefir

Kefir is made using the fermentations of yeast and bacteria. This mixture creates kefir grains, which can be combined with milk to create a tangy drink.
Kefir is consumed around the world and has been for centuries. It is a fermented milk drink developed in the northern Caucasus Mountains, according to popular belief.

The name Kefir comes from the Turkish word keyif, which refers to the “good feeling” a person gets after they have drunk it.

Kefir has been popular in parts of Europe and Asia for many years but has only recently started gaining popularity in the United States, due to the growing interest in probiotics and gut health.

What is kefir?

Kefir grains and kefir drink.
Kefir is made using bacteria, giving it probiotic qualities. Probiotics are attributed with supporting healthy digestive functions.

While yogurt is the fermentation of bacteria in milk, kefir is a combination of bacteria and yeast fermentations. The combination of bacteria and yeast is called “kefir grain.”

Kefir grains are not typical grains, such as wheat or rice, and do not contain gluten. Milk is combined with the kefir grains and stored in a warm area to “culture,” producing the kefir beverage.

Kefir has a tart and tangy flavor, and a consistency similar to a drinkable yogurt. Due to the fermentation process, kefir may taste slightly carbonated.

Many of kefir’s health benefits are attributed to its probiotic content. Probiotics, or “good bacteria,” are living organisms that can help maintain regular bowel movements, treat certain digestive conditions, and support the immune system.

Types of kefir

While kefir is typically made from cow’s milk, it can also be produced from the milk of other animals, such as goats or sheep, or from non-dairy milk.

Kefir made from cow’s milk is available in non-fat, low-fat, and whole milk varieties.

Kefir is also available in plain and flavored varieties.

Seven benefits of kefir

Kefir consumption is still being researched, but the potential benefits include:

1. Blood sugar control

In 2015, a small study compared the effects of consuming kefir and conventionally fermented milk on blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Participants who consumed the kefir had significantly lower fasting blood sugar levels than those who consumed the conventionally fermented milk.

Participants in the kefir group also had decreased hemoglobin A1c values, which are a measurement of blood sugar management over 3 months.

2. Lower cholesterol

2017 study looked at changes in cholesterol levels among women drinking low-fat milk or kefir. The participants drank either 2 servings a day of low-fat milk, 4 servings a day of low-fat milk, or 4 servings a day of kefir.

After 8 weeks, those who drank kefir showed significant decreases in their total and their “bad cholesterol” levels compared to those who drank only 2 servings per day of low-fat milk. Participants who consumed 4 servings per day of low-fat milk also had lowered cholesterol levels.

The probiotics in kefir may play a role in how much cholesterol the body absorbs from food. They may also affect how the body produces, processes, and uses cholesterol.

3. Increased nutrition

The nutrients in kefir depend on the type of milk used to make it. Generally, it is a good source of protein, calcium, and potassium. Some store-bought brands are fortified with vitamin D, as well.

4. Improved lactose tolerance

People with lactose intolerance may be able to consume kefir without experiencing symptoms, as the bacteria present in kefir break down much of the lactose.

The leading brand of kefir in the U.S. claims to be 99 percent lactose-free.

small study in 2003 concluded that the consumption of kefir improved lactose digestion over time, and could potentially be used to help overcome lactose intolerance. It noted that flavored kefir produced more adverse symptoms that plain kefir, probably due to added sugars in the flavored product.

5. Improved stomach health

Kefir may be able to help treat digestive issues, such as diarrhea or lactose intolerance.

The stomach contains both good and bad bacteria. Maintaining a balance between them is an important part of keeping the stomach healthy. Diseases, infections, and some medications, such as antibiotics, can upset this balance.

Probiotics are similar to the good bacteria found naturally in the digestive tract and may help maintain a healthy balance.

There is some evidence that probiotic foods, such as kefir, can help treat diarrhea caused by an infection or antibiotics.

One review cited the use of kefir to aid the treatment of peptic ulcers in the stomach and small intestine.

6. Healing properties

Laboratory studies have shown kefir may have antibacterial and antifungal properties, although more investigation is needed.

Research shows that kefir has the potential to be beneficial against gastroenteritis, vaginal infections, and yeast infections.

2016 review reported that kefir lessened the severity of symptoms in mice infected with a parasite. Another review demonstrated beneficial effects of kefir on mice for wound healing and reduced tumor growth.

7. Weight control

Another study reported that kefir consumption reduced body weight and total cholesterol in obese mice. However, more research on people is required.

Making kefir at home

A person can make kefir at home in a clean environment. Utensils, cooking equipment, and a person’s hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water before starting.

You will need:

  • active kefir grains
  • your preferred type of milk
  • a glass jar
  • a paper coffee filter or cheesecloth
  • a rubber band
  • a silicone spatula or wooden spoon (non-metal stirring utensil)
  • a non-metal mesh strainer

Combine 1 teaspoon of kefir grains for every cup of milk into a glass jar. Cover the jar with the paper coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. Store the jar in a warm place around 70°F for 12-48 hours, depending on your taste and the warmth of the room.

Once the milk has thickened and has a tangy taste, strain the kefir into a storage container. Cover tightly and store for up to 1 week.

There are a few tips to be aware of when making kefir at home:

  • Exposure to metal can weaken the kefir grains, so avoid metal utensils.
  • Temperatures above 90 °F can cause the milk to spoil.
  • Keep the jar away from direct sunlight.
  • The strained kefir grains can be kept to make new batches.
  • Shake it if it starts to separate while being stored.
  • To make a fruit-flavored kefir, chop up fruit and add it to the strained kefir. Let it sit for an additional 24 hours. Re-strain if desired.

How to use kefir

Kefir can be used in many of the ways milk and yogurts are used.

It can be drunk as a beverage, used as the blending liquid in a smoothie, or poured over cereal or oats. Kefir can also be used in baked goods, soups, dips, or salad dressings, though heat may significantly decrease probiotic concentration.

Risks and considerations

Kefir is safe to consume, but a person must consider certain factors before adding it to a regular diet.

While people who are lactose intolerant may be able to drink kefir without symptoms, others with a milk allergy should not consume kefir made from dairy milk, as it can cause an allergic reaction.

Since kefir is made from milk, it contains some sugar. Some pre-packaged, flavored kefirs have high amounts of added sugar.

People with diabetes should be especially careful to read the label and stick to plain varieties without added sugar.

When made traditionally, kefir may contain trace amounts of alcohol. Many commercial brands of kefir are alcohol-free.

Cinnamon: Health Benefits

Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the branches of wild trees that belong to the genus “Cinnamomum” – native to the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia.

There are two main types of cinnamon:

  • Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum), often considered being “true cinnamon”
  • Cassia cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum), which originates from southern China, is typically less expensive than Ceylon cinnamon.

Due to the fact that Ceylon cinnamon is very expensive, most foods in the USA and Western Europe, including sticky buns, bread, and other products use the cheaper Cassia cinnamon (dried Cassia bark). These days cinnamon is regarded as the second most popular spice, next to black pepper, in the United States and Europe.

Cinnamon has been consumed since 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt, where it was very highly prized (almost considered to be a panacea). In medieval times doctors used cinnamon to treat conditions such as coughing, arthritis, and sore throats.

Modern research indicates that cinnamon may have some beneficial health properties. Having said that, it is important to recognize that more research and evidence is needed before we can say conclusively that cinnamon has these health benefits.

Possible health benefits of cinnamon

Cinnamon sticks
Cinnamon sticks or quills

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cinnamon can be used to help treat muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, infections, the common cold, loss of appetite, and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Cinnamon may lower blood sugar in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, according to Diabetes UK.1 However high-quality research supporting the claim remains scarce.

Fungal infections

According to the National Institutes of Health, cinnamaldehyde – a chemical found in Cassia cinnamon – could help fight against bacterial and fungal infections.

Diabetes

Cinnamon may help improve glucose and lipids levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Diabetics Care.

The study authors concluded that consuming up to 6 grams of cinnamon per day “reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.” and that “the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”

In addition, a certain cinnamon extract can reduce fasting blood sugar levels in patients, researchers reported in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Alzheimer’s disease

Tel Aviv University researchers discovered that cinnamon may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. According to Prof. Michael Ovadia, of the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University, an extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, contains properties that can inhibit the development of the disease.

HIV

A study of Indian medicinal plants revealed that cinnamon may potentially be effective against HIV. According to the study authors, “the most effective extracts against HIV-1 and HIV-2 are respectively Cinnamomum cassia (bark) and Cardiospermum helicacabum (shoot + fruit).”

Multiple Sclerosis

Cinnamon may help stop the destructive process of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a neurological scientist at Rush University Medical Center. Cinnamon could help eliminate the need to take some expensive and unpleasant drugs.

Lower the negative effects of high-fat meals

Penn State researchers revealed that diets rich in cinnamon can help reduce the body’s negative responses to eating high-fat meals.

Treating and healing chronic wounds

Research published in the journal ACS Nano suggests that scientists have found a way to package antimicrobial compounds from peppermint and cinnamon in tiny capsules that can both kill biofilms and actively promote healing.

Nutritional profile of cinnamon

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ten grams of ground cinnamon contains:

  • Energy: 24.7 kcal
  • Fat: 0.12 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.06 g
  • Protein: 0.4 g.

Risks and precautions

Some people who are sensitive to cinnamon may be at an increased risk of liver damage after consuming cinnamon-flavored foods, drinks, and food supplements.

This is likely due to the fact that cinnamon contains coumarin, a naturally occurring flavoring substance, which has been linked to liver damage. Cassia cinnamon powder (commonly used in foods in the USA and Western Europe) contains more coumarin than Ceylan cinnamon powder. A 2010 German study found that on average, Cassia cinnamon powder had up to 63 times more coumarin compared to Ceylon cinnamon powder, while Cassia cinnamon sticks contained 18 times more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon sticks.

How much cinnamon should I eat?

A study carried out in Norway and published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2012 suggested establishing a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for coumarin of 0.07mg per kg of bodyweight per day. The researchers commented that by sprinkling cinnamon on oatmeal porridge or drinking cinnamon-based tea regularly, adults and children can very easily exceed this amount.

Based upon the conclusion of this study, if the average weight of an American male is 191 pounds (86.6kg), it could mean a maximum Tolerable Daily Intake of 6mg of coumarin. For an average American female (159 pounds or 72.1kg) it could mean a maximum of 5mg of coumarin per day.

In a document published in 2006, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR) suggested that 1kg of (cassia) cinnamon powder contains between 2.1 and 4.4g of coumarin. If you estimate that powdered cassia cinnamon weighs approximately 0.56 g/cm, a kilo of cassia cinnamon powder would equal 362.29 teaspoons. This suggests that a single teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder could contain between 5.8 and 12.1mg of coumarin (which may be above the Tolerable Daily Intake for a smaller individual).

Systematic review: Cinnamon may be beneficial for diabetic patients

Consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in levels of fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride, and an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

A meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of cinnamon use in 543 patients with type 2 diabetes at doses of 120 mg/d to 6 g/d for four to 18 weeks found reduced levels of fasting plasma glucose (-24.6 mg/dL; 95 percent CI, -40.5 to -8.7), total cholesterol (-15.6 mg/dL, -29.8 to -1.4), LDL-C (-9.4 mg/dL; 95 percent CI, -17.2 to -1.6) and triglycerides (-29.6 mg/dL; 95 percent CI, -48.3 to -10.9). Cinnamon also increased levels of HDL-C (1.7mg/dL; 95 percent CI, 1.1 to 2.2). No significant effect on hemoglobin A1c levels was seen. High degrees of heterogeneity were present for all analyses except HDL-C.

Despite the generally positive results, the authors advise caution in applying the results of this analysis to patient care because of the uncertainty of the dose and duration of cinnamon use and uncertainty of the ideal patient population.

Cinnamon Use in Type 2 Diabetes: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
http://www.annfammed.org/content/11/5/452.full
By Olivia J. Phung, PharmD, et al
Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, Calif.

Cinnamon and diabetes

People with diabetes often face dietary restrictions to control their blood sugar and prevent complications.

Although research is in a preliminary stage, cinnamon may help fight some symptoms of diabetes. It is also unlikely to cause blood pressure spikes or disrupt blood sugar. So, people with diabetes who miss a sweet pop of flavor may find that cinnamon is a good replacement for sugar.

Can cinnamon affect blood sugar?

cinnamon
Studies suggest that as a treatment tool for diabetes, cinnamon may be useful. It may also be used as a healthful alternative to sugar and salt.

Cinnamon has shown promise in the treatment of blood sugar, as well as some other diabetes symptoms.

Research on the effects of cinnamon on blood sugar in diabetes is mixed and in the early stages. Most studies have been very small, so more research is necessary.

People with diabetes who are interested in herbal remedies, however, may be surprised to learn that doctors are serious about the potential for cinnamon to address some diabetes symptoms.

A 2003 study published in Diabetes Care, compared the effects of a daily intake of 1, 3, and 6 grams (g) of cinnamon with a group that received a placebo for 40 days.

All three levels of cinnamon intake reduced blood sugar levels and cholesterol. The effects were seen even 20 days after participants were no longer taking cinnamon.

A small 2016 study of 25 people, published in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology, found that cinnamon may be beneficial for people with poorly controlled diabetes. Participants consumed 1 g of cinnamon for 12 weeks. The result was a reduction in fasting blood sugar levels.

However, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine had a different result. The study, which used a more reliable method, had slightly more participants, at 70. The researchers found that 1 g of cinnamon per day for 30 days and 60 days offered no improvements in blood sugar levels.

A 2016 analysis published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, attempted to bring together existing research on the role of cinnamon in blood sugar reductions.

The authors looked at 11 studies of cinnamon in the treatment of diabetes. All 11 produced some reductions in fasting blood sugar levels. Studies that measured HbA1C levels also achieved modest reductions.

However, only four of the studies achieved reductions in line with the American Diabetes Association’s treatment goals. This suggests that cinnamon may be a useful treatment tool, but is not a replacement for traditional diabetes treatments.

An earlier analysis published in 2011 in the Journal of Medicinal Food, also points to the potential for cinnamon to lower blood sugars. Researchers comparing the results of eight previous studies, found an average blood sugar level reduction of 3-5 percent.

There is no research that suggests cinnamon negatively affects blood sugar. That means that it is a safe bet for people with diabetes who want a more healthful alternative to sugar, salt, and other diabetes-unfriendly flavoring agents.

Other health benefits of cinnamon for diabetes

Cinnamon has also shown promise in addressing other diabetes symptoms. The 2003 Diabetes Care study also found a reduction in blood fat levels and so-called “bad” cholesterol. The levels remained lower even 20 days after participants had stopped consuming cinnamon.

A 2016 study published in Blood Pressure, compared the effects of various intake levels of cinnamon to cardamom, ginger, and saffron. Cinnamon and the other herbs did not affect blood pressure, body measurements, or body mass index.

Tips for using cinnamon

Before trying new diabetes remedies people should speak to their doctor.

The studies done so far on cinnamon’s effects on diabetes have used small quantities of cinnamon – usually a teaspoon or less.

People interested in trying cinnamon as a supplement to traditional diabetes medication should start small, with about 1 g per day (about ¼ to ½ teaspoon).

Just as different diabetes medications produce varying results and side effects in different patients, cinnamon won’t work for everyone. Some people may even experience side effects.

Some strategies to improve the chances of success while lowering risk include:

  • Keeping a food log.
  • Sticking with normal diabetes care plans. Cinnamon is not a substitute for blood sugar monitoring, a healthful diet, or diabetes drugs.
  • Speaking to a doctor before trying any new diabetes remedies, including cinnamon and other herbal remedies.
  • Using cinnamon as a flavoring agent for healthful foods, such as oatmeal and muesli. People should avoid eating cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, or other sugary foods that are rich in cinnamon.
  • It’s also possible for people who dislike the taste of cinnamon to purchase cinnamon herbal supplements.

Who should avoid cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a safe flavoring for most people with diabetes. However, people with liver disease or who believe they are at risk from liver disease may need to avoid cinnamon, particularly in large amounts.

Cinnamon comes in two forms: Ceylon and cassia. Cassia is commonly used in the United States and contains small amounts of a substance called coumarin. Some people are sensitive to this chemical and, if they take it in large doses, they can develop liver disease. People who already have liver disease are especially at risk.

Most research on the role of coumarin in liver failure looks at significantly larger quantities of cinnamon than are recommended for diabetes management. This highlights the importance of starting with very small quantities of cinnamon.

People should consider also using a Ceylon cinnamon supplement rather than the more readily available cassia cinnamon.

Interactions with other drugs and herbs

Cinnamon is safe to take with most drugs and herbal remedies. People taking another remedy should always consult their doctor first. Even natural remedies such as cinnamon can trigger negative interactions.

People with diabetes who take a drug that can harm the liver should consult their doctor before using cinnamon. They should also consider Ceylon instead of cassia cinnamon.

Cinnamon may also interact with anti-blood clotting drugs, such as warfarin, and some blood pressure medications.

To reduce the risk of negative interactions and other side effects, people with diabetes should keep a log of any new or unusual symptoms. People with diabetes should also report any side effects to a doctor as soon as they appear. This helps people with diabetes to make good medication decisions and avoid potentially serious side effects.